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Winner of the 2013 Warwick Prize for Writing

Memorial by Alice Oswald wins the Warwick Prize for Writing 2013

British poet Alice Oswald was announced tonight (Tuesday 24 September 2013) as the winner of the £25,000 Warwick Prize for Writing 2013 for Memorial (Faber and Faber), a glitteringly original poem which is a reworking of Homer's 'Iliad'.

This unique biennial prize, launched in 2009, is an international cross-disciplinary award open to any genre or form of writing. This is the first time the prize has been won by a poet.

Professor Ian Sansom, Chair of the judges, comments,

It was a unanimous decision to award the Warwick Prize for Writing 2013 to Memorial: this is a book that forges its own unique medium of expression. Memorial is a book that looks to the present as well as the past, which combines the personal with the political, and my fellow judges and I were thrilled by its imaginative and intellectual ambition.’

Oswald’s richly imaginative reworking of the Iliad focuses by turns on Homer’s extended similes and on the brief biographies of the minor war-dead, most of whom are little more than names, but each of whom lives and dies unforgettably.

It has been described as ‘remembering on a grand scale. … a concentrated, intense, multi-tasking elegy,’ (Guardian) and ‘magnificently eerie and rich’ (Daily Telegraph).

Alice Oswald won the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2002 for her second collection of poetry, Dart. Her third collection, Woods etc, won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize 2006, and in 2009 she was awarded the Hawthornden Prize for Sleepwalk On The Severn, a poem for several voices set at night on the Severn Estuary.

On winning the prize Alice Oswald said,

I'm very surprised and grateful, both to the judges and to Homer'.

Memorial was one of six works shortlisted for the prize, the others being fiction and non-fiction titles from Iraqi-British, Canadian-British, American-Australian and Israeli authors. A rich and varied list, it saw books from the Chair of Judges for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2013, Robert Macfarlane, and theoretical physicist and broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili. It included a polemical look at the science behind sexual difference, a collection of short stories from one of Israel’s greatest writers and a debut novel set in a religious community in rural Wisconsin.

The judges for the Warwick Prize for Writing 2013 were Professor Ian Sansom of the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick (Chair), acclaimed writer Professor Marina Warner CBE and Professor Ed Byrne, Vice-Chancellor and President of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

The prize was founded in 2009 and is run by the University of Warwick. However, this year, for the first time, the nominations process was expanded to include Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, following the formation of the Monash-Warwick Alliance. Students and staff at both universities were invited to make nominations from which the judging panel has made their selection.

In addition to the £25,000 monetary prize, Alice Oswald will be awarded the opportunity to take up a short placement at the University of Warwick.

Naomi Klein was the inaugural winner of the prize in 2009, for her book The Shock Doctrine, an exposé of how a privileged few are making millions from worldwide disasters. Peter Forbes won the prize in 2011 for Dazzled and Deceived, a fascinating story of mimicry and camouflage in nature, art and warfare.

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For further information about The Warwick Prize for Writing, please contact:
Lucy Chavasse or Matt Railton at Four Colman Getty
on 020 3697 4254 or 020 3697 4262
lucy dot chavasse at fourcolmangetty dot co dot uk/ matt dot railton at fourcolmangetty dot com

For further information about the University of Warwick, please contact:
Luke Harrison, Press and Communications Manager,
on 02476 574 255 or 07920 531 221
luke dot harrison at warwick dot ac dot uk